What is compost

Compost – also called humus – is the part of the soil that provides nutrients for plant growth. Natural decomposition of plant materials releases these nutrients into the soil to be absorbed by the roots of living plants. Active agents in decomposition include bacteria, fungi, worms and insects. The composting system for the garden creates a controlled environment that speeds up the natural process of breaking down plant materials.

How it works

Compost is made by mixing carbon-rich materials (dry leaves or straw, etc.), called “browns”, with nitrogen-rich materials (grass clippings, fruit or vegetable scraps, etc.), called “greens”. The basic mix is one part green to two parts brown. Place materials in layers according to the mix and sprinkle some water on the pile to keep it moist, not wet. Mix or turn the pile periodically with a garden fork to provide oxygen to the microorganisms. Depending on the mixture and the care of the gardeners, the compost pile can be ready for use in a few weeks up to several months.

What you do

  • Provide greens and browns
    • Greens:
      • Grass clippings
      • Weeds (except for invasives like thistle, nut grass, Bermuda)
      • Raw vegetables and fruit scraps, cut into 1” pieces
      • Coffee grounds (including non-bleached paper filters) and tea bags
      • Crushed, rinsed eggshells
    • Browns:
      • Autumn leaves
      • Wood chips, pine needles
      • Dead garden or potted plants
      • Hay or sawdust (not from treated lumber)
  •  Do not provide some specifics:
    • Meat scraps of any kind (especially fish)
    • Bones
    • Cooked foods
    • Dairy products of any kind
    • Oils or sauces
    • Bread
    • Pet manure
    • Plastics, metal, ceramics
    • Large sticks or branches
  •  Assist in turning piles as needed
  •  Sift and use on your garden plots

5 responses to “Composting

  1. Options for composting bermuda and other weeds include drowning it first (submerse in bucket of water for a week) or baking it first (leave in the sun, draped over a fence, shed or other surface). Either should be sufficient to kill it so that you can compost it without contaminating the compost or garden. If you do take it home, put it out in the yard trimmings for the City to collect and compost. Their system is hot enough to kill it. No reason to ever put organic material in the landfill.


  2. I will google and also very much look forward to learning which invasives there are in this area, and how to recognize them. See you at your next work party!


  3. I think I observed what looked like dried runners of burmuda grass in the “feed” compost pile last week. After reading the composting info on our page I see that it along with nut grass (which keeps popping up inside the fenced area ) should not be put into our competing system. I’d suggest putting these in a bag and take it home to put in the trash.


    • Thanks for commenting on the Burmuda grass problem, Carol. We have been advising gardeners not to put weeds in the compost. During work days, we typically provide trash bags for these weeds, which we dispose of someplace other than in the compost piles. Unfortunately, it will take some time for all the gardeners to learn the composting rules, so in the meantime, we can continue to educate our fellow gardeners. Thank you for taking the time to do so.


  4. Pingback: New Composting Signs | Cherry Creek Community Garden

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